The Grayson County Regional Mobility Authority briefly discussed protocol on lease negotiations and lengths at North Texas Regional Airport — Perrin Field during its quarterly meeting Thursday morning. These discussions were a continuation of work to reform and update lease rates that started earlier this spring.
Thursday’s conversation focused on what term-lengths the RMA wished to set for new leases and if Texas Aviation Partners has the ability to pursue and close leases for airport properties. In early 2016, Texas Aviation Partners was hired to oversee daily operations and marketing for NTRA.
“I added this item because we had some conversation about us obliging the county for long-term leases and how we should handle that,” acting RMA Chairman Robert Brady said during Thursday’s meeting.
Brady said in business it is sometimes imperative that negotiators on behalf of the airport make quick decisions and agreements for leases. Under its current model, the RMA board only meets once every three months for regular meetings. However, Brady said he wanted to see what would be proper procedures under county commissioners.
Specifically, Brady said he wanted to see what negotiations and deals Texas Aviation Partners and the RMA board would be able to make.
“I think we would feel more comfortable bringing before you the more complex transactions,” Jim Wimberley, a partner with Texas Aviation Partners, said before the RMA board and members of the commissioner’s court.
County Judge Bill Magers said normal, small-scale lease agreements typically fall under the purview of the RMA, with the county finalizing decisions made by the board. However, he said any decisions that put an obligation on the county for incentives or any tax abatements would require approval by the commission.
“As a county, the policy has traditionally been to let the airport board and RMA make these decisions,” Magers said, referring to normal lease agreements. “We don’t want to hamstring you.”
Talks then shifted toward the length of leases that the RMA would like to pursue for properties on the airport in the future. Board Member Bill Benton argued that previously the RMA had negotiated leases that were 20 to 40 years in length, but he questioned if this was a policy the board wished to continue.
“If it is simply a lease on a facility that has already been built … why would I go for a lease that is longer than five to 10 years?” Benton asked.
As development continues at the airport and values rise, Benton said long-term leases could leave the airport with deals that are no longer profitable or at market rate. However, Benton said that these leases could still be possible for deals that involve the construction of new facilities and investment at the airport.
“Why would you enter into long-term leases now with a rate that you don’t think will be the going rate in five to ten years,” he said.
In response, Rod Tatchio, a partner with N.T. Aviation, said he feels that the long-term leases should be considered and can be a tool for retaining business at NTRA.
“It looks to me that the business would be more inclined to stay with long-term leases.” he said.